As Batman movies go, Batman Forever is one that doesn't get a lot of attention these days. Fans are largely more focused on the future of the Dark Knight's representation in film these days, but back in 1995, Batman Forever was huge. The film had a worldwide gross of over $336 million, making it the sixth highest-grossing film of the year. But to hear director Joel Schumacher tell it, the Val Kilmer-starring film may have been purely a cash grab with Schumacher claiming the film was the cheapest Batman movie ever made.
In a wide-ranging interview with Vulture, Schumacher opens up a bit about his work on Warner Bros. 1990s-era Batman franchise and in part of the conversation about Batman & Robin -- the final installment of the franchise -- Schumacher makes the claim that not only should have not directed Batman Forever, but that it cost the least to make.
"You know what I think? I shouldn't have made a sequel, and that's all there is to it," Schumacher said. "I learned that sequels are only made for one reason. I'm sure that Batman Forever was the cheapest Batman movie ever made because Val didn't get a lot of money, Nicole [Kidman] didn't, Chris O'Donnell didn't, and I didn't. Tommy got a bit of a payday because he'd just won the Oscar for The Fugitive and Jim Carrey had already done Ace Ventura."
It's an interesting claim, but it isn't totally accurate. Of the four films in that Batman franchise, Batman Forever actually had the second highest production budget at $100 million. It's sequel Batman & Robin -- also directed by Schumacher -- had a budget of $160 million and its predecessor Batman Returns had a budget of $80 million. It's 1989's Batman that actually has the smallest budget at $35 million. Knowing the production budget for the film (via Box Office Mojo) doesn't completely invalidate Schumacher's claim, though. It is possible that in terms of what talent was paid, the actors did make a bit less than perhaps Michael Keaton made for his turn as the superhero, which could be what Schumacher is referencing. Batman Forever had a completely fresh cast and it was also Schumacher's first film in the franchise as he replaced Tim Burton. It would make sense that newer talent may bring in a smaller paycheck.
It wasn't just the economics of Batman Forever that Schumacher talked about in the interview, though. He also noted that Jones, who played Harvey Dent/Two-Face, was actually mean to Carrey (Edward Nygma/The Riddler).
"No, he wasn't kind to Jim," Schumacher said when asked if Lee tried to steal scenes from Carrey in the film. "He did not act towards Jim the way an Oscar winner with a star on Hollywood Boulevard, being the oldest member of the cast, and having such a distinguished career and the accolades to go with it, should have acted towards Jim. But what happens on the set stays on the set."
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